You have complete control over on-page SEO which is why you need to make sure you’re doing it right.
Fully optimizing your web pages gives you the best chance of Google ranking you highly in the search results for the keywords you want to be found for.
This checklist is all you need to fully optimize the on-page SEO of any website.
What is on-page SEO?
On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing the elements of a web page that affect your search engine rankings to rank higher for specific keywords.
There are a number of ranking factors that Google considers when ranking websites.
- The consistency and quality of the content
- The topical relevance of the content
- Keyword distribution
- The URL and internal linking structure
- Among many others
I’ll go through how to optimize all these elements in this video but first we need to talk about ‘user experience’. Each and every one of the ranking factors I just mentioned either influence or are influenced by the user experience.
Google wants to serve its users websites that provide only the best experience.
So every time you optimize an element of any website for search engines, you need to consider how these changes impact the quality of the “user experience” your website provides.
Match Search Intent
We’ll start with looking at the searches users are typing into the search engines and why, which is referred to as the ‘search intent’.
Understanding the search intent will help us work out the type of content we need to create to match that query.
There are 3 primary search intent categories:
- Informational – when the searcher is looking for more information about a subject
- Commercial – keywords include words such as buy, reviews, comparison and are when the searcher is closer to the buying stage
- Navigational – when a searcher is looking for a specific brand or website
The goal is to accurately match the content you create with the user search intent because if your content satisfies the needs of the search engine users, it’ll shoot straight up the search results for that search term.
So let’s say you’re an organic foods retailer & you want to create a page targeting ‘best organic food’.
The first couple of results will be featured snippets which we’ll come back to later in the guide.
As we scroll down you’ll see that all the links are to blog posts that list and discuss a variety of organic foods.
So this would be assigned to the informational search intent category.
Google is unlikely to rank a product page for this keyword because it probably won’t see these pages as matching the search intent.
Correctly Optimize Content
To understand the content that you’d need to include on this page to be able to rank, you can simply open the web pages ranking in the top 10 results and check out the content within those posts.
Look at the subtitles, the angle, the number of images, common keywords.
By looking at our previous ‘best organic food’ Google search result example, each of the ranking web pages is in a numbered listicle format with images for each item, a detailed description and links to where they can be purchased.
If we wanted to rank for this search term, we’d be looking to follow a similar style with our article to make sure that it matches search intent.
Now to fully SEO optimize the on-page content, you need to boost the topical relevance.
You’ll do this by making sure that you’ve clearly included related subtopics.
An easy, free way to find subtopics to include is to search your chosen keyword in Google and check the suggested search phrases.
Scan through them and make sure to double check that these topics are directly related to your initial search term.
For example, ‘Best Organic Food for Dogs’ will show completely different search results to the human food we saw on the ‘best organic food’ search results so this would need a different page, or may not be relevant at all.
However, we also have the best organic food ‘gifts’ and ‘brands’, both of which would be useful topics to discuss in our listicle.
You can take this one step further by looking at the People Also Ask snippet which will show you the most popular questions asked around that topic.
Consider whether the question at hand can be answered within your listicle and add that to your subtopics.
Now for the sentences themselves; how well does the content flow and how easy is it to understand?
Considering our earlier point about how your primary goal is to provide a good user experience, you need to make sure that the tone of voice reflects the content type and angle. Also that it’s super easy to read and simple to follow, particularly if it’s a step by step guide. This also helps when they’re read out loud using voice search or AI readers.
There are some useful tools that can help you with grammar, spelling and readability.
At FATJOE we use Grammarly & Hemingway.
Grammarly is best for grammar and spelling corrections.
While Hemingway is best for analysing your sentence structure.
A Clear URL Structure
When you create a new website, you’ll have the option to edit the URL.
Research suggests that URL length correlates with ranking. Typically the longer the URL, the lower the rank.
URLs should be short and concise, clearly describing to both search engines and users what they can expect from your webpage.
This means including your target keyword, clearly separated by hyphens.
Remove unnecessary words such as ‘the and it’, and limit the number of folders to a maximum of 2.
Following these best practices will increase your chances of ranking well and users clicking through to your website based on the relevancy of the URL.
Clever Keyword Distribution
Now to talk about keyword distribution.
We know that keyword stuffing is bad. (And if you didn’t know that, you do now)
So how do you make sure that you’re sprinkling keywords across your web pages in a natural way?
If you’re writing quality content to match the search intent, you’ll likely have included the keyword naturally throughout the body text.
But don’t forget to check the other elements of the webpage.
As with optimized URLs, there is yet another small correlation between strategically placed keywords within title tags, meta descriptions and page title, also known as the H1 tag, according to research conducted by Ahrefs.
Don’t just throw keywords in for the sake of it. Only add them where they fit naturally.
Title tags are what users see when considering your site among the other results.
The best title tags are specific to the search terms and search intent.
The more relevant the words to the search term, the more likely users are to click the link.
So be specific with the tag, making sure to incorporate long-tail, relevant keywords.
Bear in mind though that Google has had an update to their algorithm which means that they are rewriting how the titles appear in the search results with the intention of making title tags better and clearer for search engine users.
We have a full guide to writing title tags that Google won’t change which I’ve linked below.
Meta descriptions appear below title tags in SERPs and provide customers with additional information and more context as to what the user or search engine can expect to gain from your webpage.
Optimising these descriptions is easy and can be done on your website when editing the page.
If you have WordPress, you could use Yoast, which has a built-in recommendation tool.
Now let’s move on to why optimizing the media on your webpage is important for driving more traffic to your website.
Large, heavy images look great, but they can create site loading issues, increasing the page load speed, which has a negative effect on the user experience.
Ideally, images should be less than 70kb. There are plugins that you can get for WordPress that will automate optimizing images. This one’s free up to 5000 images. Or you can manually optimize these using photoshop. You’ll have more control over the type and level of image compression.
Also, make sure that you complete the alt tag.
The Alt Text is displayed to visually impaired users so having a good description provides a richer experience for your users.
Not only that but adding an alt tag can improve the information you provide search engines when they crawl your site.
This is confirmed by Google within their advanced SEO guide.
“By adding more context around images, results can become much more useful, which can lead to higher quality traffic to your site”
Google Search Console will tell you how many impressions your images received within the search results and the accompanying search queries so you can get to work on optimising the most prominent images.
A Strong Internal Link Structure
Internal linking is often overlooked but a solid strategy is invaluable for improving your rankings in the search results.
An internal link is a backlink that navigates away from the page that the user is currently on to another page in the same domain.
Search engines crawl and assess your website by following the internal linking structure.
If the structure is messy and each page has no relation to the next, the search engine will classify this as a negative user experience, which can harm your rankings.
I won’t go into a ton of detail on how to build the best internal linking structure because we have a detailed video guide on that, but make sure you do the following:
- Prioritise adding internal links to your highest-converting pages
- Link to product and category pages where possible, since these are often more revenue-generating and will help to improve conversions
- Link using relevant keywords as anchor text to signal to the search engine crawlers that each page leads smoothly to the next.
There are plenty of other on-page SEO tactics you can implement to optimise your website, but this checklist is a great place to start.